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Engel Remarks on Iran Nuclear Deal Oversight

ENGEL REMARKS ON IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL OVERSIGHT

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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks at a full Committee hearing on oversight, implementation and its consequences of the Iran nuclear deal:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And thank you again for calling this hearing. 

“Ambassador Mull, welcome to the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Mr. Smith.  I know, Ambassador, your current role is the latest stop on a distinguished career as an American diplomat.  And no matter whether we supported the Iran deal or opposed it, we’re fortunate to have you as our point person on implementation, and we’re grateful for your service.

“Mr. Smith, welcome to you.  Thank you for your service.  Your office has led the way in cracking down on some of Iran’s worst offenses.  In my view, Treasury could be doing even more if we had an Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  But the nomination of Adam Szubin is bogged down in the Senate Banking Committee, despite the urgent need to cut off Iran, ISIS, North Korea, and others from their resources.  The Senate should confirm Mr. Szubin immediately. 

“This is far from the first time the Foreign Affairs Committee has held a hearing on Iran.  We’ve held many hearings.  We understand exactly what the deal was and is.  But today’s hearing is distinctly different from any we’ve had before, because the Iran deal has been implemented.  Nuclear-related sanctions have been lifted.  And Iran no longer has enough fuel to make a nuclear weapon.  Again, no matter what anyone’s position was on the Iran deal—and I strongly opposed the Iran deal—this ship has left port, and now we need to decide which course to chart. 

“One option would be to continue bringing up legislation designed to undermine the deal.  The House has passed two bills like this already, largely along party lines.  These are symbolic votes.  They’ll never become law.  In my view they are not a valuable use of this Committee or Congress’s time.  So I don’t think we should treat the Iran deal the way we’ve dealt with the Affordable Care Act: voting again and again to repeal it, even though it’s a settled issue.  Again, I didn’t like it.  I voted against it.  But it passed.  So there’s another option. 

“And the other option—the one I support—is to work in a bipartisan manner to hold Iran’s feet to the fire and ensure there are serious consequences for its nefarious behavior.  There’s a lot we can and should be doing, and I’m confident that we can work across the aisle to find common ground that we can build on.  Iran remains the world’s most active state sponsor of terror and a chronic human rights abuser.  Iran continues to break international law with impunity.  We don’t trust Iran, and our policies must reflect that.

“That’s why I’m glad we slapped new sanctions on Iran for testing two medium-range ballistic missiles late last year—tests that were a blatant violation of the UN Security Council Resolution governing the nuclear deal.

“And there are other problems we need to address.  An Iran freed from most sanctions can spread more resources to bad actors throughout the region, strengthening the murderous Assad regime, reinforcing Hezbollah, boosting the Houthis in Yemen, and supporting Shia militias in Iraq.  As the Chairman pointed out, it really is galling that after we sign an agreement with Iran, they continue—their leaders continue—to yell, ‘Death to America.’  It really is galling.

“But, we need to work together on new legislation that will crack down on this other dangerous behavior of Iran, and shore up our allies and partners in the region.  So Ambassador Mull and Mr. Smith, I look forward to hearing from you about the implementation of the JCPOA, the monitoring and verification that Iran is living up to its commitments, and what else we can be doing with respect to Iran outside the scope of the nuclear deal to help make our country safer and enhance stability in the region.

“Iran had sanctions lifted because of the nuclear agreement.  But there are a lot of things that Iran has not yet done, and a lot of bad things that Iran is doing that I think will warrant additional sanctions.  For instance, Iran’s continued support for terrorism.  It’s not something we can turn a blind eye to, and we shouldn’t.

“So we need to figure out the way we can be most effective, what we can do in respect to Iran.  Again outside the scope of the nuclear deal.  Because during the nuclear deal we were told, ‘Well we can’t really talk about anything else; we can only talk about the nuclear deal.’

“And so, again, it is galling when we look at Iran.  It is, I think, the frustration that you heard from the Chairman is frankly the frustration that all of us have with the Iranians and with their bad behavior and with their not changing at all after they sign an agreement, showing no good faith whatsoever.  Poking us in the eye.  Continuing to walk on the line and walk over on the wrong way.  We really must hold their feet to the fire.  So, I look forward to your testimony, gentleman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I yield back.”